Baby Steps – The Adventures of Junior and Mindy, Chunky Chihuahuas

How do I put this delicately? Our newly adopted, wonderful and sweet Chihuahuas, Junior and Mindy, are, well – ahem, a tad chubby. Chunky butterballs, really.

Mindy and Junior

This makes them extra adorable. It also, statistically, will take two years off their lifespans. It’s time to get to work.

A bit of background. Junior and Mindy originally hail from South Carolina – they ended up with a rescue group there when their person passed on. They’re a bonded pair of littermates, almost 7 years old. Several months later, they were transferred to one of our favorite rescue organizations, Paws for Seniors. They began the weight loss process with them.

We brought Junior and Mindy home with us as fosters, six days ago – our household includes four senior cats with special needs and we had to make sure that they would be comfortable with any new additions to our family. It was almost instantaneous. We’ve now officially adopted them.

We want Junior and Mindy to live long, healthy and happy lives – as we wish for all of your animals. As we guide them through their weight loss program, we plan on sharing their progress with you, in hopes that their improved selves will help others out there.

Excuse me, it’s time for our walk!

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“I Rescued A Human Today” – Author Unknown

Our thanks go out to our friend Linda M. for sharing this sweet turn point of view.

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.
I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.
I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her.
Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.
I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.
I rescued a human today.

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Fun and Easy Valentine Treats

We’ve been having some fun in the test kitchen. Give these easy heart healthy recipes a try – your cats and dogs will love you for it!

Valentine Pawcakes

Valentine Pawcakes
Skill level: for graduates of L’Academie de Cuisine (kidding! Easy!)
One container thawed Pawgevity Frozen Formula (choose your protein – you won’t be using whole container)
Pawgevity Chewz (one package)
Raw, unsalted: walnuts, almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds (or any combo you wish – we used local walnuts)
Plain yogurt
Strawberry or sweet red bell pepper

We found this neat mini heart cake pan at our local craft store but any mini muffin pan will do the job.

Take Chewz and nuts and crush and mix together.
Place a layer of Chewz/nut mixture in bottom of pan (no oil necessary).
Add raw Formula to fill and pat in well.
Add another layer of the Chewz/nut mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Cool and remove from pan.
Garnish with a small dollop of yogurt and slice of strawberry or sweet red pepper and serve.

U Stole My Heart Valentine Cookies

U Stole My Heart Valentine Cookies
Skill Level: Simple
Same as above, with the addition of organic coconut or extra virgin olive oil.

We used these heart shaped cookie cutters – if you don’t have any, you can form patties by hand and cut a heart shape out with a knife.

Roll out thawed Formula, thickly (about 1/2″ thick).
Take cookie cutter and grease with oil.
Use cookie cutter to cut out hearts, then press Chewz/nut/seed mixture firmly on top.
Remove cookie cutter and place hearts on oiled cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.
Cool and serve.

Make extra and share with your animals at your local animal shelter. Share the love and share your sweetheart stories with us!

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Superballs – A Healthy Super Bowl Sunday Treat for our Four Legged Friends

Superballs are a grain free, guilt free, healthy and wholesome goody for cats and dogs. You can make as many or as few as you’d like.

Thawed Pawgevity Frozen Formula of your choice
Pawgevity Chewz (same protein as Formula)

Take Chewz and crush into small pieces, using a roller or by hand.
Form thawed Formula into small meatballs.

Roll meatballs in the crushed Chewz.

Serve on a field of shredded greens.

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From Barn to Bowl: The Raw Food Diet

From Novadog Magazine, Winter 2012:

“Raw diets for dogs and cats are now readily available in most urban areas, and a good many consumers are starting to hear about the benefits of feeding a raw diet. It is important first to understand what comprises a whole, balanced, raw diet for dogs and cats, and then to know the benefits and risks, and how to safely transition them over”. Read more here

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One “Handy” Simple Secret of Savvy Raw Feeders

“Ew.  I don’t want to touch raw meat!”

You don’t have to.

It’s as easy as picking up a pair of gloves.




Keep them on throughout the feeding and cleaning processes.  No more dry, cracked, dishpan hands!


And then wash gloves and air dry on top of a bottle, towel rack or side of the sink.


What’s your savvy raw feeding secret?


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It’s Not OK. A Rant About the Pet Food Industry.

It’s not OK.

I’m angry.
Hopping mad, really.

Note that these “warnings” began to be issued in 2007. AND they’re still continuing.

Do you remember 2007?

Thousands of cats and dogs died due to tainted pet food and treats. Apparently, the massive pet food recalls and deaths that year weren’t enough to quell the continued corporate greed of many manufacturers.

I remember attending my first major “pet food industry” conference as events were unfolding in 2007. A common refrain that I could not get out of my head was “we didn’t know what to test for”. All I could think was, as long as these manufacturers continue to source ingredients from around the globe as well as from industrial/factory farms, there will always be a threat to our pets’ food safety. It seemed that it was just a matter of time until this could, and would, happen again. And they’d be repeating that same chorus. I wasn’t willing to let them roll the dice.

It’s not OK.

It served to bolster the decision I’d already made that there would be no compromising our foods or treats. I already no longer felt comfortable or confident feeding or recommending the pet foods on the market. The status quo just wasn’t working. And still isn’t. Many of these same companies continue to claim that they “love” animals and that they feed their foods to their own pets. Shameful. What they’re really doing is sourcing the cheapest ingredients to gain the largest profit. And some even have the nerve to put “Made in the USA” on their packaging. Doesn’t matter where it’s made if even ONE ingredient comes from outside of the U.S. Or from factory farms. Period.

That’s why we were compelled to launch Pawgevity. So that someone would offer foods and treats with ingredients you can trust. For Pawgevity, it’s critical that every ingredient comes from small local farms we know and is 100% traceable. Farms that take great pride in bringing you safe and wholesome, organically raised and grown animals and produce. It’s not easy and it’s not the “cheapest” way.

But anything less is simply not acceptable for our, and your, companions. We are all responsible for their health and well being.

Our animals don’t have a choice. They’re completely dependent on us.

We know you, as Pawgevity revolutionaries, already get it.

It’s frustrating how many more don’t.

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I Want a Dog Who…

By Margaret Bishop

My sister’s dog died in February and she has just started to look for another dog. Still in the throes of grief and longing, she has a very explicit idea of what her new dog will be like. She will be just like her former dog, only three years old. She and her husband have composed a one page document entitled, We want a dog who…

This reads like a profile written by Goldilocks. The dog must have large soulful eyes, a medium coat and be beautiful. She must have a strong desire to please, be easy to train and smart, but not an independent thinker. She must want to be with them, but not clingy. She must be friendly to people and other dogs but not actively seek attention. It goes on in this vein, very specific about their wants and even more detailed on their don’t-wants. This is a method that is recommended for people looking for a dog, and is considered invaluable in assuring a successful adoption.

As I was reading this and perusing some of her choices on (world’s most dangerously addictive web-site) my new adoptee was sleeping nearby. The spaniel, sleeping next to her, shifted slightly and his paw may have barely grazed her tail. She let out her signature bark, a high pitched, hoarse yelp that startles as much as it grates. Then she stood up, gave him a baleful look, gave me a pleading look and climbed on the couch.

I didn’t make a list of likes and dislikes before I went to the shelter. Until I met her, I couldn’t know.

I brought Pied home on December 28th from a local ASPCA. I had gone to look at what was described as an elderly pointer. This was a nice dog, but not a good fit with my dogs and to be honest, not one who spoke to me. I feel guilty even admitting that I could be so fickle, but I was. I told the volunteer that I might just look around. She said, “There’s another pointer in the run next to hers. She’s only two, but do you want to see her?” When I agreed, she hesitated and then said, “She’s a little vocal.” She rushed to assure me, “But just when you first come to her pen.”

We went to look at her and that was the first time I heard the signature yelp, hoarse and piercing, only now it was a cry that went on and on. Out in the large run, she tried to play with my dogs, but if they so much as considered sniffing her, she howled and ran away. She was like a lonely creature from another planet, desperate for something but terrified of everything that was offered. She came to me and allowed me to pat her, but then had to return to racing around the run, play bowing at my dogs and then crying pitifully when they responded. I took her on a short walk, and she very nearly climbed the trees her exuberance was so great to be outside and moving, even if her freedom ended at the buckle of the six foot leash.


I had promised to be responsible, so I returned the dog to the volunteer, told her I had to think about it and that I would call the next day. “OK, but just so you know, we can’t hold her for you.” My friend, Tracey, who had come along to make sure I behaved responsibly, had to pinch me hard, but I agreed to accept that risk and turned to gather up my dogs.

As the volunteer headed across the parking lot and back toward the building, the dog commenced vocalizing again, guttural cries and yelps. She stared beseechingly at me, as her paws scrabbled on the pavement and her entire body yearned towards me.

Driving home, Tracey said, “I’m not going to say a word. I don’t want to influence you, so just tell me what you thought.”

“Oh, I’m definitely getting her. I love her. I’m definitely taking her.”

She smiled, shook her head and said, “You really like a project.”

Two days later, Pied was standing in my kitchen, whining, terrified to move on the slick floor.

I was worried that her bark was hoarse from overuse, that she might be an incessant barker. But she isn’t. The bark always means something. Sometimes it means she is excited because we might be going for a walk, or getting ready for a meal, or because the other dogs are excited; sometimes it expresses alarm and dismay as when another dog touches her; sometimes it means we are in the car and the other dogs are touching her and we are certainly going for a walk. She vocalizes a lot in the car. When Tracey and I were discussing what this dog’s job would be if she were a person, she said, “Whatever she does, she has Tourettes.”

If I leave her in the car to run into the store or the bank, she cries loudly and piteously. Once in the post office, I was getting my mail and I could hear her howling. Behind the PO boxes, one postal worker said to another, “What is that? It sounds like it’s in pain.”

If other dogs play, she wants to be part of it, but all she knows how to do is bark and run away. If a dog actually tries chasing her, she runs directly to me and starts yelping and crying at them, an expression of fear and accusation in her tone and on her face. The dog walks away, disgusted, and I stroke her ears and try to reassure her.

But Pied hasn’t been a project. She has beautiful house manners, and after only a few days of training she developed an extremely reliable recall. Because she is so consistent about staying with me and coming when I call, she can walk off leash. Well, I walk, she runs her legs off. In the middle of a full tilt gallop, she’ll abruptly freeze into the most classic point and start the slow pointer creep, each paw lifted, held and oh so silently placed down again. Very often she is creeping up on a leaf or a shadow, but never mind, she’s off again. When she isn’t pointing, she runs just for the joy in motion, nose inches from the ground, legs never seeming to coordinate with each other in any sort of consistent rhythm. And then she’ll abruptly hurl her body to the earth and roll, all four legs thrashing wildly in the air, paddling away as she wriggles through the wet grass. She gets up drives her chest into the same spot and slides her chin along the ground. Then she is up and running.

Now that it’s hot, she does this in streams. Galloping along, mouth open, water splashing into her mouth, across her face, up onto her belly, she is a wonder to behold. She won’t swim but she’s got a killer wade. Tracey said, “That dog just freebases life.”

She sleeps right next to my head and when we wake up in the morning, she groans a little, creeps closer and lays her chin gently across my face.

If I had written down what I wanted in a dog, I wouldn’t have said — I want a dog with the temperament of a car alarm, the social skills of a frightened wolverine and the car manners of a chimp on amphetamines. But it turns out, that’s exactly what I wanted.

Margaret Bishop is a writer living in Northern Virginia with her four unemployed dogs.

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The “Complete and Balanced” Pet Food Myth

“Why does your label read ‘This product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only.’?”

Commercial (registered and legal) pet foods have very specific label requirements, as determined by AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials). One of the requirements is a designation as “Complete and Balanced” or “Intended for Intermittent or Supplemental Feeding Only”. A “Complete feed” is defined as “A nutritionally adequate feed for animals other than man, by specific formula is compounded to be fed as the sole ration and is capable of maintaining life and/or promoting production without any additional substance being consumed except water”. Note the words “adequate” and “sole ration”.

Although, indeed, there are foods that are fed as sole rations and the non-human animal can “maintain” life on them we prefer to see animals actually thriving in a state of health and not dis-ease. It is simple, common sense that no ONE food in ONE package can provide everything a non-human (or human) animal needs for life. It would be the equivalent of a box of cereal, fortified with the recommended daily allowance of synthetic vitamins and minerals, being our sole ration – meal after meal, day after day. Yes, most of us could survive. But not in optimal health and condition.

The majority of pet food companies succumb to the labeling requirements and then tout their foods as the be all, end all, for your companion animal’s health and longevity. They would love for you to believe that their products are the only ones you should ever feed (we would rather suggest other whole foods that complement our formulas – please see our website FAQ’s for recommendations). Synthetic vitamins and minerals are added in, oftentimes in detrimental amounts – as evidenced by recent recalls for over supplementation of vitamin D. You’ll find odd, “novel” ingredients that are contraindicated for cats and dogs but help the manufacturers to reach those numbers – nature and species appropriateness be damned. Completely different animal proteins will be mixed within a formula, which is a huge issue for animals with allergies – if they have an allergy/intolerance to one meat protein, they can then develop an allergy to every other protein (and ingredient, for that matter) in that formula. Too high ratios of organs to muscle/tissue meat occur, also leading to dangerous over supplementation of nutrients.

There are many examples of when this method of “doctoring” food has gone awry, but perhaps one of the most tragic was in the not so distant past when recommendations for taurine were incorrect. This led to blindness, heart disease, nervous system disorders and death of many cats due to insufficient taurine intake.

We prefer to provide a whole foods based formula. We carefully balanced our formulations to include all the known necessary nutrients for cats and dogs, in proper proportion. Further, we achieve this through the use of whole foods, as nature taught us. The organs are derived from the same animal that provides the meat and bones. Instead of substituting inferior bone meal or synthetic calcium, we grind the bones and achieve the correct balance of calcium to phosphorus. We follow nature’s course by not mixing animals within a formulation. Adhering to the dictates of what the natural world has provided has proven, time and again, to be the best and safest course.

At Pawgevity, we strongly believe the true natural path to nutrition is the straightest path to achieving health, vitality and longevity. Plain and simple. The proof is in the food and your animals, not the label.

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Is Your Dog Smarter then a Pre-Schooler? Author: Margaret Bishop

I have always heard that your average dog is as intelligent as your average three year old. Recently, I read that the average dog is as intelligent as the average four year old. I don’t know if the dogs are getting smarter or if the children are slipping, but I wanted to test this out.

I looked on-line and found a reputable looking canine intelligence test. But I couldn’t find an average four year old. The few four year olds I know were deemed inappropriate because they are all gifted. “It wouldn’t be fair to your dogs,” one mother said sympathetically, as the mini Einstein sat at her feet eating dirt.

I decided to do the intelligence testing with the dogs first, and then see which one should go up against the gifted and talented.

This IQ test has 12 subtests. Some involve rearranging all the furniture in one room and then timing your dog to see how long it takes him to notice something is different. I don’t have the energy to move heavy furniture, but when I park my car on the opposite side of the driveway from where it is usually parked, the dogs all bark and carry on as if we were being invaded by the Mongol hordes. Point being, they notice, but given their interpretation of this change, is it really a sign of intelligence?

Another test involves “retraining” your dog from heeling at your side to heeling in front of you. Now, my dogs have been exposed to more of a Waldorf-Steiner or Montessori type of education. I haven’t wanted to stifle their creativity or interfere with the fulfillment of their unique destiny by forcing them to learn such degrading and robotic behaviors as heel or stay. So the “retraining” exercise was out.

I started with the biscuit under the soup can. You show the dog the treat, allow him to sniff it, see it, make sure he knows what you have. Then you put it on the floor and with great fanfare, swoop a soup can down over it. Then you say, “Get the biscuit,” in an excited and encouraging tone. The score is based on how long it takes the dog to get to the biscuit. I thought I was starting with an easy one.

The New Addition was the clear winner here. She took a sniff, turned to walk away and knocked the can over with her paw. She walked across the room, had a drink of water, strolled back and discovered the biscuit when she bent her head to allow me to scratch her ears. Twenty seconds!

The next fastest was the Angel Straight From Heaven (ASFH), at 30 seconds. He also knocked the can over, and with his nose, although I still don’t think it was deliberate. The spaniel walked away, the pointer stared at the can, then at me, then back at the can. The pit bull slid the can all over the kitchen, but never actually knocked it over.

The next test is the more difficult version of that one. I was starting to sweat. The dogs were just excited that once again, we were playing with biscuits. This time, instead of hiding the treat under a can, you throw a dish towel over it. The ASFH knew exactly where that biscuit was. He picked it up, towel and all, and chewed it and chewed it and chewed it. If it crossed his mind that something was wrong, he was too polite to say. And he was smart enough not to swallow the whole thing. Both the pit bull and the New Addition managed to find the biscuit after I kind of propped the towel up a bit and maybe left just a tiny edge of biscuit peeking out. The spaniel walked away. The pointer looked at me, at the dish towel, back at me.

When I told my sister about how passive the pointer is during all this testing, she suggested that the pointer isn’t food motivated. “What if there was a squirrel under that towel?” Good point.

The next exercise tests problem solving. You take a large bath towel, throw it over the head and shoulders of your dog and then time how long it takes them to get out from under it. This was better. Most of the dogs managed it in less than thirty seconds. The ASFH stood there for thirty seconds, then sat down, moved his head right, left, then stared straight ahead. It was as if he was thinking, “Well this is different, but kind of peaceful.”

The thing to know about the ASFH is that for the first five years of his life, he lived in a pen. He lived in a pen the way a gold fish lives in a bowl. He didn’t go for walks or drives; he didn’t come inside during inclement weather, or get taken out for training or hunting or just to play. Someone brought him food and water once a day, most but not every day. I sometimes think he waited five years for me to come and take him home. As a result of this he has a patience unknown in the known world. He makes Gandhi look like a prison guard. I decided that wasn’t a good exercise for him.

And the spaniel walked away with the towel.

The next two tests were fun. These are tests of short term (15 seconds) and long term (5 minutes) memory. You take the dog into a room, show him the biscuit, and have him watch you place the biscuit in a corner. Then take him out of the room, turn him in a circle and lead him back into the room. Release him and say, in your encouraging and excited voice, “Get the biscuit!” All of my dogs lunged directly for the biscuit. The long term memory test has the same set up, but you put the biscuit in a different corner and take the dog out of the room for five minutes. Again, perfect scores for all dogs. OK, the spaniel didn’t actually get the biscuit on the second try, but just because the lighting was bad in that corner, so even though he was looking in the correct place he couldn’t actually see the biscuit. I gave him full points. He sure needed them.

There are a few more tests that I haven’t gotten around to administering yet. I think I’ve discerned the trend and don’t really need to do any more testing. The trend suggests that my dogs aren’t all that motivated to perform. They are too polite to knock something over just to get at food. They are too calm to struggle to get out from under a blanket. But they can remember for days where you dropped a morsel of dehydrated lamb.

Had I been a real tester, and an impartial scorer, the spaniel would be considered deficient. The test says about these dogs, “They will have a lot of problems negotiating life and can be extremely difficult to live with.” Naturally, he is the easiest dog I have, and a joy to live with. I’m not sure the same can be said for those gifted four year olds.

Margaret Bishop is a writer living in Northern Virginia with her four unemployed dogs.

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